Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Haifa Street fighting resumes; 30 'insurgents' reported killed

A U.S. military helicopter flies over the area during the operation today.

BAGHDAD, Jan 24 (Reuters) - U.S. helicopters attacked gunmen holed up inside high-rise buildings in Baghdad on Wednesday in what the U.S. military said was an operation to regain control of a major street cutting through the heart of the city.

Thirty insurgents were killed and 35 detained during day- long gunbattles in the area, Iraq's Defence Ministry said. The U.S. military said one U.S. soldier had been killed in central Baghdad but would not confirm whether it was during the clashes.

The fighting came a day after U.S. President George W. Bush told a joint session of the U.S. Congress in his annual State of the Union address that America dared not fail in Iraq and called on lawmakers to support his plan to send more troops.

U.S. and Iraqi troops backed by Apache attack helicopters and armoured Stryker vehicles firing their heavy machine guns fought militants in Haifa Street in a battle that began around daybreak, U.S. military spokesman Major Steven Lamb said.

He said U.S. troops also fired mortars after coming under machinegun, mortar and rocket-propelled grenade attack during the operation to restore Iraqi security control of the Sunni insurgent stronghold, which lies within 2 km of the Green Zone, the heavily fortified compound housing Iraq's government.

"A lot has been coming from high-rise buildings. We are firing at terrorists in those buildings," Lamb told Reuters.

He had no details on casualties, but a local resident said he had counted six bodies, all men, one of whom had a rifle lying next to him.

A local journalist said he helped transport 37 wounded people to hospital, including women and children, in three ambulances that managed to get through the security cordon.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet

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